The school year may be upon us, but the summer isn’t over yet! If this year is anything like years’ past, the hottest days of the season are yet to come. And nothing beats the heat better than a few scoops of yummy ice cream. If you’re sick of the same old local scoop shop, scroll down and discover the city’s hottest new spots for chilly treats.
photo: Melissa Heckscher
If you’re a soft-serve fanatic (or you’ve got a baby or toddler who just isn’t up for hard scoops of ice cream), Swirl is a must-stop spot. If you can manage the somewhat congested location (it’s just off the Rosecrans exit of the 405 Freeway), you’ll be happy you braved the traffic. Swirl’s creamy concoctions are way better that the soft stuff you get at McDonald’s — and, actually, given that most kids go nuts over anything with “Mc” in front of it, that says a lot. Choose from five different flavors that change every so often and always include one vegan option. Our recommendation: Go for the Blue Monkey flavor; it’s a gorgeous color turquoise and tastes like vanilla cake batter. Toppings are 50 cents and include kid faves like gummy bears, peanut butter cups and rainbow sprinkles.
Pssst: Thirsty? Be sure to stop just next door to grab a boba drink from the newest Honey Boba.
5263 W Rosecrans Ave.
photo: Smitten via Yelp
If you want ice cream that’s fresh—like, made just a minute ago fresh—Smitten is the place to go. A small creamery inside El Segundo’s swanky new outdoor shopping center, Smitten makes every order by hand using liquid nitrogen mixed with organic milk and cream. Kids will love seeing the “smoke” pour off the counter during the process; and you’ll love the creamy fresh taste of these gorgeous scoops. Flavors include several kid-friendly basics plus more adventurous choices including mascarpone and strawberry, earl grey with chocolate chips, and the decadent Tcho 60.5% chocolate (featured in the delicious-looking photo above).
Pssst: Not in the Beach Cities? Smitten’s next shop is set to open soon in Silver Lake!
850 S Sepulveda Blvd. (at The Point)
It’s OK to admit that you’re making the trip to Little Damage just because you want a picture of its signature black ice cream on your Instagram page. We get it. Every picture we see of the stuff makes us want to do the same—it just looks so cool. But once you taste the creamy and unique flavors, you’ll see why even Instagrammers are coming back for more (and why there are almost always lines out the door). Little Damage makes all its soft serve batches using ingredients from organic local dairy farms. The shop’s famous black ice cream gets its color from activated charcoal infused into the mix, an addition believed to have various health benefits.
As for flavors, the menu is constantly changing, but expect to see unusual choices with names like “Dark Cinns,” “Unicorn Tears,” and “Just Beet It.” And, be prepared to wait in line.
photo: Jenis Splendid Ice Cream via Instagram
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
An Ohio-based chain known for its high quality ingredients and creative flavors, Jeni’s ice creams are made “without synthetic flavorings, dyes, or off-the-shelf mixes.” Grown-ups should try some of the kookier flavors, including “Sweet Corn & Black Raspberries,” “Goat Cheese with Red Cherries,” or “Middle West Whiskey & Pecans;” while kids will want to stick with the yummy simple stuff, like “Milkiest Chocolate,” “Sweet Cream,” or “Gooey Buttercake.” This branch just opened this summer, but the chain is taking LA by storm, so there may be an outpost near you, soon.
123 N Larchmont Ave.
Mid-City (sister locations in Venice, Los Feliz and Calabasas)
photo: Thuy N. via Yelp
This place has everything a kid would want—yummy ice cream and fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies—in one delicious dessert. Cream lets you pick an ice cream, then pick a cookie, waffle or waffle taco (!), to create your perfect, made-to-order ice cream and cookie sandwich. If you want to really make your kid explode with excitement, you can also let her add a topping to slather onto the open side of her cookie concoction. Um, yes please to all of that.
11135 Magnolia Blvd.
photo: Meghan D. via Yelp
Sloan’s Ice Cream
You may walk into Sloan’s for ice cream, but if you’ve got kids with you, you’re probably going to leave with a whole lot more than that. The kitchy little creamery sells more than 30 flavors of ice cream as well as a colorful selection of toys, candy and stuffed animals stacked literally up to the ceiling. You have been warned!
1315 Third Street Promenade
Tired of ice cream? How about a popsicle, instead? Popbar isn’t completely new (it opened last year in Torrance and Rowland Heights), but we think it deserves a shout-out because it’s something different. There are no scoops anywhere to be found in Popbar’s pristinely organized display case. Just pick out your popsicle of choice: choose from creamy gelato, yogurt or sorbet popsicles, then pick your dip and toppings. Dips include dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate; toppings include nuts, sprinkles, or graham crackers.
Pssst: These pops are guilt-free! The sorbet pops have only 69-79 calories each; yogurt pops have only 100 calories each; and gelato pops have 149-198 calories each. Of course, that’s not including toppings.
21540 Hawthorne Blvd. (inside the Del Amo Fashion Center)
Compartes is first and foremost a chocolate shop, but it made our list because it just started offering a frozen concoction that’s so good that it’ll make you forget about ice cream and use the straw instead. That is, if you’re a chocolate-lover. Compartes’ frozen hot chocolate (only available at its Century City location) uses just two ingredients—its signature 67% dark chocolate and milk—to create a frozen drink that tastes like a rich and decadent liquified fudgsicle.
The dessert/drink can be topped with homemade whipped cream and a roster of rotating toppings that reflect the brand’s gourmet chocolate bars. These include: Cereal Bowl (a blend of 4 different cereals and marshmallows), Spring Awakening (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries), Birthday Cake bar (made from Compartes infamous Let Them Eat Cake bar filled with homemade birthday cake and sprinkles) and even a topping of 24 karat edible gold.
10250 Santa Monica Blvd. (inside the Westfield Century City mall)
photo: The Grail Churros via Instagram
The Grail Churros—Redondo Beach
Ice cream smashed between a churro-bound “sandwich?” Sounds like a winner to us! Grail doesn’t have a website yet, but the soon-to-be storefront at 1808 South Sepulveda Blvd. in Redondo Beach looks like it’s about a month away from opening. Follow its Instagram account for details on the opening: instagram.com/TheGrailChurros
Afters—Westfield Topanga Village in Canoga Park
This California chain is famous for creating “The Milky Bun,” which is a scoop of ice cream wedged into a warm glazed donut. It’s basically the most delicious thing to happen to ice cream since the cone. Opening late summer/early September, but if you can’t wait to try it here, head to their Pasadena shop now!
Butter’s is promising to offer “late-night nostalgia to the Silver Lake crowd” and it is set to open right next door to Silverlake Ramen (meaning, dinner and dessert in one yummy spot!). The shop will specialize in small-batch as well as vegan ice cream.
What’s your favorite newly scooping shop? Let us know in the comment section!